Three chapters down! That doesn’t seem like a lot in general, but when I think about all the other responsibilities and mandates I have governing my life right now, it really is quite an accomplishment for me. What is important though is that I am moving forward. It’s a constant progress of which I’m consistently meeting my goals and can rejoice at the end of each month with a verifiable product in hand. It’s a nice feeling in the midst of the chaos of twenty-something “figuring-out-where-I-want-to-be-and-what-I-want-to-do” life.
In writing the third chapter of my novel, I reached a high of twelve single space pages of writing. I don’t know why this feels like such an accomplishment, but when I first began this journey, I was a little afraid I would spend each month writing the shortest chapters and end the year with a pathetic showing of progress in the narrative. However, I think I’ve found my rhythm now. I don’t need or want ridiculously long chapters just for the sake of pages and word count. I just want to tell the story that’s in my head as best as possible.
I also found this chapter needing many more scenes than previous chapters (e.g. dreams, a heated late-night conversation, an short action scene, and blending of fantasy and reality by the end of the chapter). It was hard to not just gloss over certain short by important dialogue scenes. Some scenes are needed for continuity and believability even though they have little action or overall plot importance. However, I believe that everything you write should somehow be important to the story as a whole. So rather than shuffling through a seemingly meaningless conversation between my main character and her parents so she can get back to bed and therefore move on to the next scene, I tried to convey briefly the kind of relationship my main character has with her family.
I’m finding this is actually one of the most challenging parts of writing this novel. I KNOW how my main character’s story will play out, and since it is a fantasy and coming-of-age novel, her parent’s roles are minimal as in many other similar stories. However, she still has to have parents. And one’s parents tend to shape who you grow up to be depending on their type of parenting dynamic and personalities. Essentially, I don’t want my main character to seem like a detached alien. She is human. And she has a family that has influenced her beliefs about the world, and those beliefs are what helps and hurts her in her journey to self-discovery.
In the first draft of my novel written when I was in high school, as far as I can remember, there was not even a single scene with her parents. My main character vaguely referred to them and a brother, but she was never even given a scene at her own house, only that of her grandparents. It always bothered me that my original story was missing the parental component because I kept wondering how she would explain that she had disappeared for days, weeks, or months at a time into the magical land of Kamerell. If you’ve read the Pendragon series by D.J. McHale, then you understand one option I took into consideration. In that science-fiction series, the main character, Bobby Pendragon, finds out he’s a Traveler with the special ability to travel in portals between different “territories” or universes with the mission to protect each of them from destruction as guided by the demon Saint Dane. Similar to my original writing, Bobby is whisked away to another territory somewhat by accident and under circumstances shrouded by mystery so that only when he returns home does he find out that his house and family don’t actually exist. That they, in fact, only existed for a short period of time to raise Bobby as a human and help foster in him a love for Second Earth as his home territory. To Bobby, they were very real, but to the rest of Earth, they simply disappear and no one remembers they existed.
I considered this option heavily since it would provide loopholes for some of my plot holes. For example, why is Piper the chosen one even though she has an older brother? What makes her so special? Why would her mother not have any kind of magical powers if the reason Piper has them comes from her magical ancestry (namely her grandmother and grandfather who “seem” human but were at one time quite magical). Essentially, making my main character’s family simply disappear when they are no longer necessary would be convenient but sloppy. Instead, I’m taking the time to characterize them in these beginning chapters, and I have a few good ideas as to how I can explain Piper’s absence and how they react to it later in the novel. I think family is important, and it shouldn’t just be left out to be “convenient” if it could actually serve a valuable purpose in characterizing the main character’s motivations.
So for now, she has parents! But no brother. I can’t find a good enough reason to add siblings at this point, but it’s certainly something that I could go back and add in if necessary. The main relationship of the novel will still remain that of the main character and her grandparents although it has changed a lot from my original storyline. But changes are good! And it’s making my novel-writing journey ever so exciting!